By bringing awareness to our feet and legs, we have have established a firm base of support in which to find our core. It has been argued that if the arches of the feet are lifted and supported, the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, and the roof of the mouth will respond by lifting and supporting themselves. Thus, alignment is more accessible.
You can do this exercise to find your core either lying down (preferable with knees bent), sitting or standing.
We’ll start by focusing on your breath.
Believe it or not, there are different ways to breathe. You can breathe into your belly, or you can breathe into your ribcage. The Pilates method focuses predominantly on ribcage breathing, however, for a healthy core one should be able to access both types of breath.
Put your hands around your waist and inhale through your nose. Imagine your breath swirling down to the base of your pelvis, and as you exhale imagine your breath floating up into your ribcage.
Do this 5 or 6 times to slowly open and extend your breath.
Once you have made this connection, use the following visualization to contract your abdominals:
Imagine a soft, squishy ball inside you abdomen. Inhale as described above, then, as you exhale imagine both your navel and your spine moving towards each other to squeeze the ball.
On your next exhale, imagine that the sides of your waist are narrowing to squeeze the ball.
Progress your abdominal engagement by imaging both visuals at once: the navel and spine narrowing towards the ball as well as the sides of the waist narrowing towards the ball.
Once you are able to fully engage your abdominals, you can progress further by holding the contraction of your abdominals around the imaginary ball and breath into your ribcage.
In Pilates we aim to hold the abdominal contraction while performing certain movements, yet maintain our breathing by taking in full deep breaths into our ribcage.
Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.